Well this was a no brainer, but at least folks are talking about it now. So if Yemeni and Somali jihadists are working together, and Al Shabab is taking a 20 percent cut in piracy ransoms, then I wonder what the Yemeni cuts are? I mean that is a lot of shoreline now that a pirate could call home, if they were backed by the jihadists. If they did not have the support of the jihadists, then I would imagine they would come up against some problems.

The other way to look at this deal is the drug trade in Latin America. If you are a drug dealer in Central or South America, do you think you can set up your own shop and not get hassled by any of the large cartels? Of course not. If you did not cut them in, they would kill you. Or they would kill your family, and then tell you to sell more drugs for them! lol

So if Al Qaeda moves to control this corridor called the Gulf of Aden, then why wouldn’t they want to control these pirates? They could make money off of operations and they would disrupt western and middle eastern interest (oil flow, commerce). Jihadist privateering is a logical conclusion.

Now on to solutions, besides just putting armed guards on boats or squaring away those countries on land. I personally like the Q-ship idea. It is the ultimate zheng and qi strategy, and it would be one that pirates would have a very difficult time countering. The basic scheme is that you use a tanker or whatever boat as bait, and make it look like an unarmed vessel. You could even make it look like it is in distress. Then if it attracts a pirate crew and they go into attack mode and show their guns, an anti-piracy force outflanks that pirate crew and takes them down. You would have a force on the ship open up with the big guns, and a force on water that could attack. Whatever a team wants to use to get the job done. The cool thing is that there is no terrain for a pirate to hide behind, and you actually want the pirates to attack.

This idea though, would need a license by whatever country the vessel is flagged under, and there must be rules identified for killing and capturing pirates. There must be incentive as well, because if you want everyone to get involved with destroying piracy, you need to make it a venture or offense industry that ships would want to get involved with. Ideally, you would also want to capture the pirates and collect information from those detainees so networks can be studied and dismantled. So there must be a mechanism that supports the legal capture of pirates, if possible. Especially if an anti-piracy team wounds some pirates and those poor fools are in a sinking vessel. Do we let them die, or do we have a responsibility to capture them and care for them until those individuals are delivered to a detention center.

I believe all of these details could be hashed out in a Letter of Marque, much like they were in the past. As it stands now, we have armed security teams on boats that are great at repelling the assault, but they have no authorization from anyone to capture/detain or even care for wounded pirates?  What sense does it make to have shoot out’s with these guys, but have no means of legally detaining them and taking that pirate crew out of the system?

Now of course this tactic would have multiple legal issues to overcome before it would ever be considered. But honestly, something has to be done because the problem is only getting bigger and it is morphing into an animal that is certainly a threat to the global economies and innocent people. I also fear the day that pirates decide to capture a vessel and outright hand it over to Al Qaeda. Something like ramming a natural gas tanker into a heavily populated port or sinking the thing in gut of the Straits of Hormuz is a frightening thought. Believe me, if you can think it up, the other side has probably thought of it too.-Matt

Closer ties between Somali and Yemeni jihadists threatens oil through Aden Gulf
Monday, 18 July 2011
Affiliates of Al Qaeda operating on opposite shores of key oil-export routes through the Gulf of Aden have forged closer ties in what could emerge as a substantial threat by a group that has been dealt severe body blows by the Arab revolt sweeping the Middle East and North Africa and the killing in May of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seals. ?The closer ties between Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab in war-shattered Somalia is sparking concern among intelligence and counter-terrorism officials who suggest that AQAP may be the driving force behind closer cooperation between the two groups.

Cooperation between the two groups could heighten threats to the Gulf of Aden which through the Suez Canal links the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea. An estimated 2 million barrels of oil or 5 percent of the world’s seaborne oil trade is shipped each day through the Gulf, which has been nicknamed Pirate Alley because of continued attacks by Somali pirates. A UAE tanker was pirated late Friday bringing to 22 the number of vessels being held for ransom.?Intelligence and counter-terrorism officials are further concerned that the cooperation could prompt Al Shabaab, which despite recent setbacks controls significant chunks of Somalia, to expand its operations further into East Africa and embrace the principle of global jihad by also focusing on targets outside of Africa. AQAP is believed to have been supplying the group with weapons, fighters and training in explosives over the last year.
Ironically, the threats are posed by two affiliates of an organization already in decline that are fighting domestic battles of their own. Al Qaeda has lost much of its appeal over the last decade as a result of multiple suicide attacks that killed scores of Muslims and the mass anti-government protests sweeping a swath of land stretching from the Gulf to the Atlantic coast of Africa that reject its violence and puritan interpretation of Islam. The impact of the bombings and the revolt is also taking its toll on Al Shabaab and AQAP.?Al Shabaab, which has largely focused its operations in Somalia, but last year claimed responsibility for the bombing of two sites in the Ugandan capital Kampala where Ugandan and foreigners had gathered to watch the 2010 World Cup final, is finding recruitment increasingly difficult because of a lack of funds and its harsh Islamic rule. ?The group, which has banned the playing and watching of soccer as un-Islamic in areas it controls, said the bombings were intended to persuade Uganda to withdraw its African Union peacekeeping forces from Somalia. The bombings killed 74 people.?The closer ties come as Al Shabaab has been losing territory in the capital Mogadishu as well as along the border with Kenya in clashes with forces loyal to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) supported by the peacekeepers. ?Once restricted to several blocks around Villa Somalia, the presidential palace, TFG forces now control 13 of Mogadishu’s 15 districts, including much of Bakara Market, an open air market in the heart of the city famous for its trade in arms and falsified documents and as the crash site of one of two downed US Black Hawk helicopter in the 1993 Battle for Mogadishu. Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Nur predicted last week that the TFG would capture the rest of the city “in the next few weeks.”?The cooperation also comes amid increasing chaos in Yemen as a result of mass anti-government protests demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which has allowed AQAP to expand its influence in the south of the country. Nonetheless, AQAP, which is meeting stiff resistance from tribesmen, has not launched a major operation since its failed attempts in October last year to mail bombs aboard cargo planes headed for the United States and in October 2010 and to detonate a bomb aboard a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.?US intelligence and counter-terrorism officials were alerted to the closer cooperation between AQAP and Al Shabaab by information found on hard drives seized during the raid in May on Bin Laden’s hideout in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad. They gleaned further information from the interrogation of captured Al Shabaab operatives. ?The Nation reported last week that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was operating a counter-terrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives at Mogadishu’s airport and was also using a secret prison in the beleaguered Horn of Africa nation to interrogate prisoners. A US drone is believed to have last month wounded two Al Shabaab operatives associated with Al Qaeda.?A New York court indicted an Al Shabaab commander, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, earlier this month on charges of providing material support to both the Somali group and AQAP. Mr. Warsame was interrogated aboard a US naval vessel before being transferred to New York. He is believed to have been one of AQAP’s key contacts in the Somali group.?The closer cooperation between AQAP and Al Shabaab expands US efforts to deal Al Qaeda and its affiliates a final death knell in the wake of Bin Laden’s death. The two weakened groups no doubt pose a threat to shipping in and the flow of oil through the Gulf of Aden, but their efforts to coordinate and extend their theatre of operations is unlikely to do much to boost their popularity or resurrect a movement that faces an existential challenge it has yet to come to grips with.
Story here.